All My Coffee Cups Are Different

Dear Mr Berners-Lee,

Does the WWW have a warranty?  It appears to be broken and in need of repair.

What we all liked about the web was its open, standards based decentralisation and its interoperability.  It was amazing, thank you. However, it has been high jacked.  

The web has gone the same way as the high street.  For Starbucks, where the coffee makes you shudder,  for M&S that renders us similarly beige and for Tesco those tyrants of spurious choice, read Facebook that reduces me to Liking things, read Google that narrows my world (yes, narrows) and Amazon that crushes new talent.      

Can we turn it off and on again?   Better still, can we uprade it?  We are after all, used to doing that for everything else.  How about we add some new standard features that anyone can implement,  you know, like email (which is a tyrant, but not owned by anyone) or SMS which can get to me anywhere on this wonderful planet.  So how about we standardise:

Willingness to buy

and open up services:

Private conversation

and let people invent services around that lot.

I am sure we could dream up many more so we can innovate, evolve and conduct an infinite culture, you know like actual people.  Some new services may be national, others regional and some still global. I’d like what we’ve learned from the few who dominate, who have identified de facto standards, to be re engineered into the web itself as formal standards and no longer owned by any one company.

I hate everything being the damn same.  All my coffee cups are different.  Perhaps that’s just me.


6 thoughts on “All My Coffee Cups Are Different

  1. Dear Mr Allinson,

    Thank you for taking the interest in our products.

    As you will no doubt appreciate, the Interwebnet is a bit like the rail network. It’s bloated, ageing, rarely runs as expected, is congested just when you don’t want it to be and, quite honestly, is a bit tatty. In our attempts to upgrade to Interwebnet 2.0 we decided that it would be easier if we could just allow a few companies that pay us loads of wonga to run and operate the network, a bit like rail privatisation. Whilst this has achieved many of our objectives – connecting you to people you went to school with that you never really liked, for example – we do accept that we have had to sacrifice other functionality in the best interests of Daily Mail readers.

    Your suggestion of turning it off and on again is a good one, and we have tried that. In fact we also gave it a big thump on the top too, but it doesn’t appear to have helped. I think the problem is our colleagues at FaceGoogleBookTwit have decided that we’re probably better off without the items in your second list. In fact their Pricing and Syndication teams appear to have gone home in February and not come back. I did briefly speak to their VP of Narcissism but they seemed to be only interested in themselves and didn’t really want to talk.

    It may be of interest, indeed encouraging, to hear that FaceGoogleBookTwit recently appointed an SVP of All-Things-Magnolia since they do quite like having everything a bit off white. My understanding is their Interest, Desire and Emotion teams are all going to work for this new individual which will vastly simplify the Interwebnet since we then only need to sell one style of sandals, one colour of sock (magnolia) and one beard trimmer. I’m sure they’ll come up with an admirable product catalogue that we can all enjoy which, hopefully, will also alleviate your concerns when shopping in the Amazon.

    Once again, please do accept our apologies if the service you receive on the Interwebnet is not quite what you expected and, rest assured, we are doing everything we can be bothered with to make it better. You may also want to try our sister product, the Telephonaletter.

    Kind regards,


    • Dear Mr British-Leyland,

      What went wrong with you car venture in the 1970s appears to be happening again. Have you learned nothing?

      Putting all those venerable yet once independent car brands into one centralised operation wrecked the whole industry. Next thing you know, the Germans have won the war after all!

      Now you’ve done it again.  I suppose at least your products start in the morning these days, unlike the in the 70s when you had to leave for work/school/Leeds Utd vs Liverpool an hour early in case setting off entailed lifting the bonnet, pointing a hair dryer at the damp points, sanding soot off spark plugs or hitting the fuel pump with a hammer.

      I recall the most popular colour for minis and marinas being beige, with a hint of rust.

      I suspect that if each of those companies had concentrated on being different and we had been a bit better at industrial relations (eg less greedy, which all sounds a bit familiar) we might still have a car industry. 

      Anyway, I’m increasingly of the view that some more open standards and services would create competition and liven it all up a bit.

      The whole google thing re the right to be forgotten is being messed up as well. I will ruminate, but the phrase, “I wouldn’t start from here”, springs to mind.

      You really do need to redesign the thing. It looks like well have to host the Olympics again. Get cracking and we can hail you in the opening ceremony again!

      Great comment, as ever.


  2. Dear Alison,

    We regret to inform you that your application for the role of Chief Mechanic has been unsuccessful. We don’t usual write to unsuccessful candidates but in this case made an exception, largely due to your unusually encyclopaedic knowledge of 1970s motoring and your creative suggestions on how to start a car on a cold day. We have now equipped our entire fleet of yellow-vanned mechanics with hairdryers, but with clear instructions that they should only be used on spark plugs, not on hair rollers.

    We should also point out that the we are an equal-opportunities employer so your gender has nothing to do with whether you can wave a spanner around or say the word “flange” without giggling.

    Once again, thank you for your interest in our band of merry men (and women) and I trust you have a long and rust-free career in the automotive industry.

    Kind regards,


  3. Dear Mr Humber-Bridge,

    That is great news.  I control the entire global supply of hair dryers, hammers and sand paper, among many other things.

    I also make huge sums from the sale of padded envelopes, bubble wrap and gaffer tape.  This was not part of the original plan but most gratifying nonetheless.

    In my next venture I will take control of the last part of the supply chain by completely taking over the landfill and storage sectors, monetising the former using competences from the latter which will enable me to derive synergies out of thin air albeit at your expense.  

    I was wondering if you could sell Hull to me for my land-fill land-bank?


  4. Dear Mr Anthony,

    I read with interest in today’s Daily Mail details of your enterprise and was keen to find out more. Normally I would not go near the business pages for fear I might read something about Sainsbury’s but on this occasion your particular story piqued my curiosity.

    I do find the transportation of fragile items troublesome. No matter how hard I try, they always break. I have tried wrapping them in all manner of things: fried bread, soil, bath salts, soup, and most recently brush bristles but none have the qualities necessary to ensure my items enjoy safe transit. So to hear of items such as “bubble wrap” and “padded envelopes” I was greatly encouraged. I do appreciate that I may be coming a bit late to the party here but, wherever possible, I do like to use the postal service as it was originally intended back in 1943 e.g. I never use “sticking tape” which I find an offensive anachronism to Her Majesty’s Royal Mail. Nope, string and brown paper was good enough in the War so it’s good enough for me. However, on this occasion the thought of my trinkets being shipped while being cuddled by little pockets of air made me jump for joy !

    All that said, I do think it’s a bit weird to send posting materials in the post. It’s like holding a mirror up to a mirror which makes me go all wobbly. So unless we can meet in a car park, I won’t be placing an order.

    To your question about Hull, naturally I would be happy to sell this to you, as long as you promise to let me win.

    Faithfully yours,

    Tom Bernard-Cribbins.

  5. Dear Mr Oddbins,

    The world of commerce moves very quickly.  As a result of the delay in your responding to my offer for Hull, I have since acquired Middlesbrough as the head quarters of my secure personalised land fill / storage operation and nostalgia theme park.

    I had thought mere dumping to be the end of the chain but it appears that waste management is just the latest opportunity in the tourism business.  We are setting up tours for nylon clad carb munchers to visit their own waste for a fee.  I am not sure I believe quite how profitable this new venture is turning out to be.  

    It appears to be a perpetual motion machine as vistors have started selling waste to each other in return to a small fee which we gratefully levy while we in turn sell them more tat that they later  ship back to us after they have procured the necessary packing 

    We don’t yet do transactions in car parks though we do have an inexhaustible supply of brown envelopes so it might be quite a nice sideline.  When will it all end?! We are conversational twist from taking over the Premier League,  the IPL and Formula 1, not to mention the government.  

    Hmm, have I just reinvented the car boot sale?


    Jonathan Livinstone Seagull

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